Hoy wins winter stages ahead of Rally Queensland

Wednesday 21 June, 2023
Photos: Zed Photographyy
Clayton Hoy and co-driver Erin Kelly have taken top honours in the hotly contested KCF Rallysport Benarkin Winter Stages last weekend.  
Some of Queensland’s best rally drivers made up the 29-strong field, making the trip to Benarkin for a jam-packed day of rally action.  
With many using the event as a shakedown for the upcoming Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland, competitors tackled 85 competitive kilometres across five passes on three stages.  
Hoy and Kelly were fast out of the gates in their Mitsubishi Evo 5, but fell just short to Subaru drivers Ryan Williams and Brad Jones in the opening stage. Hoy then fell outside of the top 10 by the end of SS2.
Their two runs across SS3 then proved to be the defining moment in the rally. The Mitsubishi driver was the only driver near the 11 minute bracket on SS3 and the 2nd pass of SS3. Those two stages sealed the victory for Hoy and Kelly by a full minute ahead of Bespoke Metals Ian Menzies and Robert McGowan in their Mitsubishi Evo 9.

Menzies and McGowan had the advantage over the leading pair at the half-way point but were unable to come close to the standalone times in the final stage, having to settle for second place as a result.  
Rounding out the top three and finishing a further 20 seconds back was John Bustard and Melinda Bergmann, who were honouring the late Ronald Bustard by driving the same Evo he drove in the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship.

John and Bergmann's  total time of 41 minutes and 10 seconds was enough to edge out the fourth placed John McHugh and Ray Priest in their 1984 Toyota Corolla.

Despite narrowly missing out on an outright top three finish, McHugh and Priest didn’t walk away empty handed, taking victory in the RWD class ahead of the fifth place outright and second in class Tom Dermody and Ryan Preston in their Ford Escort.
After a dominant opening stage, Williams and Jones would find themselves in a battle of other WRXs, powering their 2003 model ahead of Todd Webster and Nicola Hoey in their 2011 model.
Alan Kuss and Jayden Night would then follow in their 2008 entry, while Shane and Sylvie garner finished ninth outright in their 1994 WRX.  
Craig Aggio and Megan Byrne concluded the top 10 finishers aboard their Toyota GR Yaris, ahead of FWD class winners
Securing FWD honours were Ethan and Meeka Kilbride in their 1996 Toyota Levin, half a minute ahead of Russell Hewitt and Tony Best in their Mitsubishi Mirage. Michael Gill and Rhys Simmons rounded out the top three in FWD.

John McHugh and Ray Priest edged Tom Dermody and Ryan Preston for RWD honours, with the Toyota Corolla some 20 seconds ahead of the Ford Escort of Dermody. Both crews were impressively inside the top ten in fourth and fifth place respectively, edging out many contemporary 4WD machinery.
Many of the competitors will now turn their attention to the upcoming Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland on 22-23 July, as part of the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship and Queensland Rally Championship.
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